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Maldives in talks with China for oil exploration: Minister

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

Maldives today said it is in talks with two Chinese companies for oil exploration in the Indian Ocean island nation.

Maldives' Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Dr Mohamed Shainee said that discussions would be held with two companies in China regarding the search for oil, state-run Xinhua agency reported.

Opportunity will be provided to neighbouring countries to join the search, the agency quoted him as saying.

This is first time Maldives has announced plans for oil exploration.

Shainee, however, did not disclose location where the proposed exploration would take place.

Maldives' Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed said that with projects such as oil exploration and bridge- construction in the agenda for discussion, the China-Maldives joint commission meeting will benefit economies of both countries.

"This is a great achievement to us as well," he said.

Maldives will officially join China's Maritime Silk Road Project during the first ever China-Maldives joint commission on economy and trade, the agency said.

A high level delegation of cabinet ministers will participate in the discussions with the Chinese government.

Maldives will also officially join the trade route during the meeting.

An MoU establishing a Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation was one of a raft of agreements signed during the visit of President Xi Jinping to Maldives in September.

China has already agreed to construct a bridge connecting the airport island with capital Male and upgrade the international airport.

After a team of Chinese surveyors carried out a feasibility study into the bridge project last month, ministers said that they would seek to expedite the project while in Beijing.

China also accounts for one third of all tourists visiting the Maldives.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen last week laid the foundations for 704 housing units in the island of Hulhumale, part of an arrangement for 1,500 units to be built in the country as part of one of the Chinese government's mega projects.

First Published: Tue, December 16 2014. 21:15 IST